Most athletes today sport brand new production watches, the market for vintage sports watches has been growing in recent years. This was made clear when Paul Newman’s old Rolex “Paul Newman” Daytona sold at auction for a record breaking $17.8 million (£13.2 million) in October.
Expensive Swiss mechanical watches don’t have much practical use in today’s sporting world, yet you can’t go to a major sporting event without seeing some serious watch game.
Watch brands are chomping at the bit to sponsor the world’s most elite and up-and-coming athletes, with most of the big name brands partnering with teams of athletes – from fighters like Floyd Mayweather to half of the tennis world, including Federer and Nadal – to wear and promote their watches.
The most expensive watches worn by the world’s most elite athletes, ranked in ascending order by prices:
Rory McIlroy – Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch
Price – $5,500
Rory McIlroy seems to be very happy with his partnership with Omega, according to his Instagram. He must have a pretty big collection of them by now, as not only will Omega gift him certain watches, but he is also given a new timepiece when he wins certain golf tournaments.
Jessica Ennis-Hill – Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean
Price – $6,134
Jessica Ennis-Hill is one of the best all-around athletes to come out of the UK and was a star of the London 2012 Olympics. She is also an ambassador for Omega and can be spotted wearing various models. Here she is wearing an Omega Planet Ocean 39.5mm.
Roger Federer – Rolex GMT-Master II BLNR
Price – $8,850
Roger Federer is one of Rolex’s best known ambassadors, and you won’t see him lifting a trophy without one of the luxury watches on his wrist, each of them hand-picked to match the tournament. Here, he’s wearing a Rolex GMT-Master II in stainless steel with a blue-black cerechrome bezel to match the blue courts of the Australian Open. While this watch was probably provided for him by Rolex, Federer wouldn’t have much of an issue buying it as he was this year’s highest-earning athlete from an individual sport.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Tag Heuer Carrera Heuer-02T
Price – $20,200
Cristano Ronaldo is the highest-paid athlete in the world, and a lot of that money comes from his numerous endorsements, one of which is Tag Heuer. While it’s a mystery exactly which and how many watches he owns, here he’s spotted wearing the Tag Heuer CARRERA Heuer-02T. The price of his exact model is unknown as it is listed as “unique,” but the black panther version of this watch, which is limited to 250 pieces, goes for $20,200 (£15,100).
Phil Mickelson – Rolex Yacht Master 40
Price – $24,653
To go along with his three green jackets, Phil Mickelson has a sponsorship deal with Rolex and has been seen wearing various models. Here he is proudly showing off a Yacht Master 40 which comes with Rolex’s patented Oysterflex bracelet and is made from rose gold.
Serena Williams – Audemars Piguet Millenary hand-wound
Price – $28,400
Serena Williams not only recently became a mother and a wife, but also took the title for the most Grand Slams won in the Open Era when she beat her sister Venus at the Australian Open in January.
She played the entire tournament while wearing her solid rose gold, diamond-set Audemars Piguet Millenary hand-wound watch. As with many of the watches these athletes wear, the exact model doesn’t appear to be available to the public with it being on a white alligator strap, so the price provided is from the closest model publicly available.
Conor McGregor-Rolex Sky Dweller
Price – $37,500
Conor McGregor is know for his massive displays of wealth and love of all things expensive. Here you can see him wearing a yellow gold Rolex Sky Dweller on a brown alligator strap. While this is perfect for a man who is constantly in different time zones, McGregor is also known for having a varied collection.
Usain Bolt – Hublot Big Bang UNICO
Price – $42,000
While Usain Bolt is commonly known as the fastest man on earth, he’ll never be running late with his own line of Hublot watches made in gold and crystal. These were produced by Hublot at the start of the 2016 athletics season to commemorate his career so far and his final season on the track. With a depiction of his silhouette doing his signature lightning pose in one of the sub dials, the watch is truly one of a kind, just like Bolt himself.
Elina Svitolina – Ulysse Nardin Marine Lady Chronometer
Price – $45,500
Elina Svitolina is one of the Ukraine’s top tennis stars and is currently ranked number six in the world. Since she has partnered up with Swiss brand Ulysse Nardin, she has been spotted wearing multiple models by them. Here she is wearing the rose gold and diamond covered Marine Chronometer.
Anthony Joshua – Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Off-Shore
Price – $469,805
Anthony Joshua is quickly becoming one of the biggest names in UK and international sport. He has made a lot money from his boxing and also his business ventures, and has earned roughly $3.5 million (£2.6 million) from endorsements alone this year. Alongside getting paid, he also gets gifts from his various partners, included Audemars Piguet. If he had bought this watch, it would have cost him cost £350,000.
Rafael Nadal – Richard Mille RM27-02
Price – $800,000
Rafael Nadal is a big ambassador for Richard Mille and one of the very few athletes on this list who wears their watch while competing. His specially designed Richard Mille RM27-02 was made with top-of-the-line shock absorption technology for a mechanical watch with a design inspired by racing car chassis. There is also orange in the design to reflect the clay courts of Roland Garros, where Nadal has dominated for so many years.
Floyd Mayweather- Hublot
Price – $1.4 million
Floyd “Money” Mayweather is known for being one of the highest-paid and flashiest of all athletes, so his partnership with a brand like Hublot makes perfect sense. While he is rumoured to have a collection that goes much further than just Hublot pieces, you are far more likely to see a diamond encrusted Big Bang on his wrist than anything else. The one on his left wrist in the above picture was brought to international attention when he claimed it was worth $1.4 million (£1.04 million) while trash talking Conor McGregor leading up to their super fight.
Lewis Hamilton – IWC Big Pilot Special Edition
Lewis Hamilton and the entire Mercedes F1 team is sponsored by IWC. Therefore, Hamilton gets to wear a lot of rare and limited edition IWC watches. The one pictured above is believed to be an IWC Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar in yellow gold, but no price for this watch can be found publicly.